Sunday, November 27, 2011

" I'll Be In The Greenhouse "

Menagerie Manor is a busy place these days, the driveway has an abundance of vehicles, rooms buzz with voices and the kitchen is once again the hub of excitement.  I mentioned in an earlier post that our eldest son and his wife have separated and he moved back into his old room at the top of the stairs bringing with him his Boston Bull "Popeye".  MeMa's good friend Andrea also going through a divorce stays with us as well.  So once again I find quiet solitude out in the garden.  Don't get me wrong, I love my life and the people in it.  They unfortunately have quite a bit of drama going on in their personal lives and when discussion leads to these dramas I am probably the least likely to keep a level head and mouth shut, unlike my beautiful wife who stays calm and often comes up with the most logical solutions to familial drama.  With that said I must tell you I am amazed at how much I have gotten done in the gardens.   I have gotten enough of the re-landscaping done to the back that I was able to plant next years crop of garlic on schedule, twice as many clumps as last year.  I spent one afternoon putting the bubble wrap insulation up in the greenhouse (note to self, remember to put it up before filling the greenhouse with all the pots of tender tropical plants for winter storage....duh)! I cleaned out the chicken house, sprayed for lice and covered the floor and nest boxes with nice fresh straw.  Dug all the dahlia tubers and am drying them for winter storage.  Pruned all the roses down to three feet so that they won't be damaged by winter wind, along with all the dormant pruning to many of the other trees and shrubbery.  All this was accomplished while keeping my mouth shut and head in the game....most of the time.
Even with the cold and very wet weather we still have a few things in bloom in and out of the greenhouse!  I love this little Chrysanthemum, it reminds me of a picture of the sun that the "Little Terrorist drew and stuck on the fridge.  All they need is the smiley face in the center.

And fresh from the greenhouse Orchid #49, which happens to be MeMa's favorite, Miltassia 'Shelob Tolkien'
While I was taking a break in the sun room Ray and Peter, MeMa's two canaries were quietly singing away when they took fright of something outdoors, I was able to grab a photo of a Red Shafted Flicker hanging on the side of the Redwood looking for insects.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"They Just Want To Be Noticed"

When it comes to working in the gardens most of my time is spent in the back garden which is very high maintenance.  While I acknowledge the fact that I have a front garden I don't choose to spend a great deal of time working in it, so with that in mind at the time of installing the landscape I created the front garden as a low to no maintenance landscape.  I used trees and shrubs that need once a year pruning or fertilizing.  I was way ahead of what is now the eco-friendly sustainable gardening when I removed all the lawn, built berms and planted the trees, shrubs and ground cover.  Now over half the neighborhood has followed my lead.  Early spring the Mt. Fuji Cherry and the Star Magnolia offer an abundance of color along with the clumps of tulips that bloom and disappear leaving us once again with an inconspicuous green landscape.  Last weekend I took advantage of our not so November weather and was putting a nice tidy edge to the cotoneaster ground cover when a woman pulled up and asked what "that purple thing was"?  I looked in the direction she was pointing and told her "Purple Beauty Berry". She responded with, "Oh I hope you don't mind me asking but they just want to be noticed."  And with that she drove off leaving me looking at this lovely plant sitting at the edge of the front walk.  Yes, she was right, this shrub that sits quietly in the green landscape all through the seasons when most plants are admired for beautiful flowers chooses November of all months to suddenly burst forth with the most stunning garlands of purple amethyst berries. 

Purple Beauty Berry
'Callicarpa dichotoma'

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gardener Back On Track

Lawn cut in half, brick in place, shrubs transplanted and temporary fencing up to keep the dogs out of the work area.

Well before my last two posts I was going to post about some big changes that are taking place in the gardens here at Menagerie Manor.  Unfortunately plans do get changed so the garden has been on hold for a bit.  I am hoping to get out there and resume work soon. In the thirty five years that we have lived at Menagerie Manor the landscape has undergone quite a few changes.
Faze one, at time of purchase, was lawn from border to border.
Faze two, the back of the property became a myriad of gravel pathways with plantings on all sides and no lawn.
Faze three, I found out that I was going to become a father and immediately removed pathways and plantings and installed a large lawn, play structure and a tree house with a glider mechanism that carried many a squealing child from tree house, traversing the lawn and stopping at the play structure on the other side of the yard.
Faze four, empty nest.  No more play structure, tree house removed as well although I had a tuff time taking down the glider.  Built a very large koi pond with foot bridge and turned the gardens into a fairly tropical paradise.  The one thing I have always enjoyed was vegetable gardening, but with the addition of the large greenhouse, chicken house, bird aviary and a four car garage instead of the single one.......well there just was no more room for the garden of choice.  I talked to the owner of the nursery behind us and asked if they would be willing to sell five or ten feet of the adjoining land but the answer was NO.  Always the optimist, I sat on the bench and pondered my predicament.  I was looking at the back drop of foliage to the rear of the property and then it hit.  Transplant! That was it, dig out a portion of the back lawn and move everything forward turning all that is currently foliage into bare ground, to be planted with vegetables the following spring.
Faze five, old man spent all of a weekend removing sod, amending soil and transplanted a Coral Bark Maple before old man hobbled into house and collapsed in a whining heap not moving until bed time.  When faze five is completed and at this rate I would estimate 2015, I will have lovely rows of corn and every other sort of vegetable for the table.  In the mean time could somebody pass the liniment?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Little Pumpkin That Became King Of the Gourds

Remember my posts about my hopeful entry in the annual Pumpkin Parade? I also posted a few about the slooow progress as my little pumpkin started its journey.
Yesterday at 5:00pm sharp the good people in our neighborhood cheerfully got together for our third annual Pumpkin Parade.  Our little pumpkin was loaded into a wagon, he watched us nervously with his radish eyes and sniffed the air with his potato nose.  
MeMa gave him a reassuring hug
And then off to the Parade...........
It was a record turn-out and besides the King of Gourds there were several other entries as well....

Even the Tin Man had an entry

The Little Scarecrow did not have an entry or a comment for that matter

                              There was much standing about before the parade started its route,

                                             but it soon did with a trombonist leading the way.
There was at least forty strong this year
With all the commotion, it brought folks out of their homes, some joined in and others took photo's.
A sad attempt at a group photo was taken by yours truly, at least I got half of the group

Then it was back to Menagerie Manor were GG Ma and GG Pa had a Kodak moment with the "Little Terrorists"
Little Terrorist #1 Taeya, practiced her curtsy and allowed the paparazzi to photograph her.

Little Terrorsit #2 Brooklyn (left) and his best friend Olly

Before the Little Terrorist were turned loose on the night we all sat down to a nice hot bowl of MeMa's home made clam chowder, a delicious secret recipe passed to her by her mother which we have made a Halloween tradition.